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The Supreme Court still isn't done with us
Also: Dobbs ruling fallout? “More than 1,000 people signed up to run for office this weekend,” Amanda Litman of Run for Something tells Law Dork.
And yet, we are expecting more opinions — some of the sevenremaining cases — at 10a Monday.
Those remaining include one more religion case — addressing a public high school football coach’s post-game, mid-field prayer in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District — and two other big cases that I wrote about last week: West Virginia v. EPA and Biden v. Texas. West Virginia is about regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, and the Texas case is about the Biden administration’s decision to end the “Remain in Mexico” Trump administration policy. The decisions will have direct effects on the environment and immigration, but they also could change government — altering the way presidents and their administrations interact with states, Congress, courts, and the policies of past presidents. A handful of criminal law cases remain as well.
We don’t yet know when we’ll be getting more opinions this week after Monday, if at all.
BUT FIRST, LAST WEEK: There’s been a lot of great, important writing recently, and everyone should be reading all they can (while still taking care of themselves), so I wanted to highlight a few of the pieces that struck me as more than worth your time:
Rebecca Traister on remaining clear-eyed, but maintaining hope, is so important.
Benjamin Powers and Dan Vergano on the digital dragnet. A huge difference between pre-Roe and post-Roe times, this could become a critical piece of abortion restrictions enforcement.
Jamelle Bouie sums up what do about the Supreme Court, crisply and concisely.
Marc Spindelman — a former professor of mine and friend — takes a look at a “constitutional trap” for sex equality in Dobbs.
This was from May, coming out of the Dobbs leak, but Elie Mystal’s piece on the Hyde Amendment is worth a re-read.
THE Q&A: A tweet from Amanda Litman caught my attention.
Litman is the co-founder and co-executive director of Run for Something, which encourages and helps young progressives in running for office. In her tweet, she screenshotted some of the ideas and later linked to this list of their ideas for action, which includes steps like “[e]xplor[ing] options to provide abortion care on federal lands,” Justice Department support for new abortion-related litigation, and using the White House briefing room and website to help share abortion-related stories and provide abortion-related resources.
We talked on the phone on Sunday afternoon about the tweet, what Litman thinks could and needs to happen in this moment, and what she’s thinking about Democratic politics more broadly.
One piece of news up top: The Dobbs decision has some people thinking it’s time to run for office.
Litman told me that prior to the ruling the organization, over the past few weeks, has generally had hundreds of people signing up in an entire week. Then, the ruling was issued on Friday.
“More than 1,000 people signed up to run for office this weekend,” Litman said, in the 48 hours since the ruling.
Thanks to Litman for her time.
Law Dork: I can start with your tweet and this this list of ideas for action. Where did this come from?
Amanda Litman: Yeah. After the Roe decision initially leaked last month, one of my group chats, which is a group of women, all of whom either currently work or have worked in politics … were really frustrated with the White House. [We] would tweet things and get angry contacts from folks in the White House asking, “What do you expect us to do?” And that feedback was very, very frustrating. So, we were basically like, “Oh, we'll put together a list for you,” and started a Google Doc, as one does.
And I think what it really spoke to was that actually there's a lot of stuff that the White House and national Democrats can do, if they're creative, if they want to think expansively, if they want to push the boundaries of it, and even get caught trying — I think is the key here. Really, after many national Democrats were campaigning for one of the few anti-choice Democrats left in Congress, Henry Cuellar, down in Texas, it's like, if you want us to believe you when you say, “Give us two more senators, help us hold the House majority, and we will codify Roe v. Wade, you need to prove it — in a lot of different ways.”
Law Dork: You’re not some outsider. In fact, Run for Something is sort of the opposite of that: It's encouraging people to become insiders.
Law Dork: How has that experience sort of figured into the way that you're thinking about how people who are upset with this ruling and want to offset this ruling need to be responding?
Litman: One of the things that my work has really taught me … thinking about abortion in particular, obviously, is that there's what state legislatures can do, there's what Congress can do. But there's also what DAs can do in terms of refusing to prosecute, there's the role that city councils can play in ways they can either facilitate leaving the city to access abortion, or creating protected zones around health care centers. There's what school board can do about comprehensive sex education, what universities and community colleges can do for their communities. So when we talk about government, and we talk about Democrats — that's a really big pool of people. And when you think about it that way, you start to think a little more creatively about what what's possible.
Law Dork: When you look at the national landscape, and you do look at the these sorts of systemic issues, and the immediate pushback on, say, Supreme Court expansion to questions about the filibuster. How do you see individuals having a role in addressing that in the coming months?
Litman: Well, I think we have to keep in mind it's going to be a really long fight. The Right didn't get here overnight. It was 30-some-odd years and especially the last 12, slowly, carefully winning local elections, winning counties, flipping state seats. We’re not bringing back our rights overnight, even if we're able to flip two Senate seats and hold the House in the fall. It's going to be really hard. So when I think about what individuals can do, it's making sure that we keep it in the conversation. The only way abortion will be a galvanizing issue for voters is if we keep it in the cycle. So that means thinking of ways to keep telling the stories of people who are trying to seek care and can't get it. Later this summer, within the next couple of weeks, there will be people who try to get an abortion, can’t, and die. … It's going to be really terrible. People will suffer and that sucks. And this is the path forward. And I wish it were different.
Law Dork: Run for Something — and sort of the thinking behind it — seems like an interesting place in the middle of some of the disputes online over the weekend, like, between “Democrats are never going to do anything for us” versus “Give us $15 and vote in November.”
Litman: And even “vote in November” misses the fact that there's elections in many states [before then, with primaries or special election]. I totally empathize with the frustration, I share the frustration with, especially nationals Democrats who are elected saying just “you gotta vote” — especially Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, telling people to organize their way out of it is infuriating. And, voting has to be a part of this. There's so much to do — supporting abortion funds, with mutual aid networks, helping health care clinics, and the way we get back our rights is by winning elections.
Law Dork: That is another piece of this. In addition to elections, there are the personal, local solutions, the mutual aid networks, the abortion funds — the idea of providing immediate support outside of governmental protections. How is that integrated, in your view, with people who are wanting to do the immediate government action, and the longer-term electoral action?
Litman: I think it's remembering that there's a lot of different ways to get engaged, there’s a lot of different parts of the ecosystem. There's a lot of work, and all of it has to happen at the same time. I think the idea that any single tactic — whether it's electoral or individual or organizing or mobile or protesting — is the path forward misses the fact that we need all of the paths forward. Any one of them alone isn't going to get us — it makes a difference, but it needs to all happen.
Law Dork: Is there anything that that you think is essential for people to be thinking about this week that we haven't talked about.
Litman: Obviously, this is the Republican Party's fault. But, the one thing I find myself really frustrated by is the Democratic Party's narrowing of the map over the last decade, in terms of where, when, and how we organize, where we communicate. And I think a lot about how Democrats controlled the state legislature in Mississippi, where this court case originated, until 2011.
The fact that we have driven our organizing so furiously around Congress and around the presidential election means there's huge swaths of the country where we are starting at zero in terms of electoral infrastructure, and maybe at five in terms of organizing infrastructure.
And that's really, that lays at the feet of Democratic donors in particular. Run for Something is a 50-state organization working with candidates all across the country. When Run for Something does our work and I talk to people about the work we're doing around democracy work, and why it matters not to let Nazis run elections in Idaho. And they'll say, “Well, I don't care what happens in Idaho.” That's a huge fucking problem.If you care about this, you need to care as much about the anti-abortion laws are passing in Oklahoma as you do about what they're doing in Pennsylvania.
Law Dork: I've seen that with LGBT rights over time as well. It really wasn't until this year with the overwhelming wave of anti-trans legislation that it really seemed to gather national attention.
Litman: And it only takes one. I mean, ideally, you have more, but I think about in Nebraska, where State Senator Megan Hunt led the filibuster that ultimately beat back the [abortion] ban in the state Senate there. It only takes one. It just needs to be someone who is bold and progressive and often younger, because there's some sense of moral clarity. And go in clear-eyed about what the GOP is and what they are not.
I do think also about expanding the map. OK, maybe our potential Senate seats this year are Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, maybe a couple other places. Think about what they could be in 2028 or 2032 or 2036. What are we doing now, so that in four or six or 10 or 12 or 14 years from now — when hopefully we still have elections — we have as many places as possible that we can win. But that's not, unfortunately, how Democratic donors think. So, until then, I'll just keep screaming into the wind.
This interview has been condensed for space and clarity.
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This was corrected to seven from an incorrect nine. (I think my mind literally wiped Friday's decisions out of my count, so I was still at the nine remaining that we had on Friday morning before decisions when we started this morning.)